With its third poor performance in four games, a 71-60 loss to Colorado, the season seems to sliding precipitously in the wrong direction as WSU dropped to 1-3 in the Pac-12 and 9-7 overall today.
The Cougs were out of their element from the very beginning in this one. Ken Bone elected to bench Reggie Moore and start Dexter Kernich-Drew -- not for disciplinary reasons, but to get more length and athleticism into the lineup against a long and athletic opponent. In a related move, WSU played zone exclusively from the start.
Both decisions backfired. The WSU offense sputtered out of the gate, unable to find any kind of rhythm. The Cougars would score just 0.83 points per possession in the first half on their way to a 32-24 deficit.
WSU easily could have trailed by much more than eight at the break, but Colorado's poor shooting from long range against the zone -- 3-for-15 -- kept the Buffaloes within reach. Most of the looks were wide open, which would be a portent of things to come in the second half. And not in a good way.
Colorado has shot just a shade under 40 percent from three as a team this year, and when they continued to get open looks against the zone in the second half, the shots (predictably) started to fall. The Buffs hit four of their first five attempts from three, the last of which stretched their lead to an insurmountable 22 points with 11:21 to go. They would finish hitting 6-of-8 in the second half.
Through it all, Bone searched for answers by shuffling personnel, but all that really seemed to do was continue to prohibit WSU from finding any rhythm. It wasn't until he finally switched to man-to-man defense and stuck mostly with a lineup of Moore, Faisal Aden, Marcus Capers, Abe Lodwick and Brock Motum (with some DaVonte Lacy and Kernich-Drew mixed in) that the team finally started to put a dent in the lead.
WSU would whittle the lead down to eight with 2:42 to play, but a pair of missed layups by Moore and Aden sealed the deal.
The team started slow again, and there's lots of room for second guessing Bone's decisions. A frustrating weekend all around.